February 17, 2010
The photo above shows views of two of the magnificent chambers in Carlsbad Caverns, located about 20 (32 km) miles southwest of the city of Carlsbad, in southeastern New Mexico. It's hard to really convey, even with an album full of pictures, the true impact of actually experiencing these caverns. They were known to Native Americans for centuries but Jim White is credited with first advertising their existence in 1898. As shown here, the formations, referred to as speleothems, are illuminated in turquoise light. Carlsbad was formed when, atypically, sulfuric acid dissolved along cracks and faults in limestone. When rainwater permeates the roof of the cave, dissolving some of the limestone as it slowly passes downward, mineralized deposits called stalactites will occur. If the acidic water reaches the cave floor, triangular deposits called stalagmites will build. Both are composed of calcium carbonate.
If you plan to visit Carlsbad Caverns, take the trail down from the Natural Entrance if you possibly can. It's fairly steep but will leave you with a proper feeling for the scale of this geological wonder. Photo taken on May 21, 2008.
Photo details: NIKON D-80 camera; ISO 100; 30 second exposure; f 11; 20 mm lens.